So that’s what I’ve gotta do…

You must forgive me, because this blog post is very similar to one I posted less than three months ago, when I told the story of the time I got 21% for my first test in Quality Management Systems. But I guess it’s just because I’m still going through a rocky patch in my life when I need to keep reminding myself to get up and go on.

See data gathering for my PhD is turning out to be a nightmare of note. Masters was tough… my friends all know 2011 was the worst year of my life. The year I got divorced doesn’t even compare to the year when I wrote Masters. And this time it feels tougher – in a different way. For my Masters degree, I had the data, I just did not have a methodology. My current situation is that I contacted each one of my target population personally (numerous times) and of the 30 pharmaceutical organisations, I’ve only gotten data back from 4 thus far! A sinking feeling if there ever was any. I just don’t have the data to even consider any methodology. But I have no choice but to just persist, and do whatever it takes to stay positive.

Thing is, I know why I want this PhD. It’s for very personal reasons. Over the weekend I thought about it again. I know that I will add more value to the people, …my students, my colleagues, my business partners and even my family and friends once I have this degree. I’m going to make a difference, and this degree is going to put me in a better position to do that. So quitting is just not an option.

And so I sat outside in the courtyard at campus yesterday and had a smoke (SHOCK horror Holly har Bronwyn!!!! – I hear Shaun swearing at me) Yes I know I quit for three years and I will quit again Shaunie, I promise. It’s a crap habit. You know that I know. It’s just tough right now. Besides work being a monster, my personal life has been on a rollercoaster this year too. A failed relationship earlier in the year and recently another romantic encounter spun me like a top… but thankfully the uncertainty around that is over now. My friends who know me well are saying “Yeah that sounds right“. No such thing as mundane when it comes to this chic.

Anyway getting back to the point. I was observing the students around me, all a bit nervous because they are all writing midterms exams now. And it reminded me again of a pivotal time in my own life, which started the 16th September 2010 when we wrote Stats 4 midterm exam. See, when we started studying Stats for the first time, it was scary but most of us got through Stats 3. Then enter Stats 4 and you’re filled with false confidence. Not entirely false confidence, I actually studied. In particular CUSUM and EWMA (Side note: Now that I lecture Stats 4 I sometimes make a joke with my students and tell them if I ever get two female puppies again I’ll have to call them CUSUM and EWMA…because that’s what it’s like).

Long story short(er)….We hashed that Stats 4 exam. It was a bloodbath. Blood, guts and snot actually. In the history of all the exams I have ever written, I never ever felt like that in my life. What a royal mess. I took two days sick leave because I was literally nauseous after that paper.

But life goes on. When we got our results only 12 of the 183 in our class passed. I barely scrapped through with 50%. It felt awful. But after licking my wounds during the midterm break my survivor mode kicked in. I needed a Master’s degree to get a lecturing job, so failure was just not an option.

I decided to find out who got the highest marks in class, and I decided that I would befriend that person. My quality friends thought it was hilarious strategy but I just calmly invited them to “Watch this space”. So when “top marks student” arrived in class the next Wednesday night I sat down next to him and I told him he was going to be my friend. He was probably in shock because I can’t remember him even questioning when I gave him my number and he gave me his. His friends were also gobsmacked but hey the strategy worked out well! Between his group of friends and my group of friends we killed the next few Stats 4 assignments by swopping notes and helping each other.  And on the 23rd November when we wrote final exams, I blazed through that paper. I don’t think I stopped to even breath. And I passed Stats 4. Not with a distinction – I got 70%. But at the end of the it all when I graduated I was awarded a B Tech Quality with Cum Laude honours, and the Dean’s Merit Award for being the person in that year to obtain the highest marks for that degree.

So I don’t know how yet…. but I know I have to bring this PhD degree home. And I will.

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